The ‘halo effect’ is a classic finding in social psychology. It is the idea that global evaluations about a person (he or she is likeable) bleed over into judgements about their specific traits (he or she is intelligent).
In the same way politicians use the ‘halo effect’ to their advantage by trying to appear warm and friendly, while saying little of any substance. People tend to believe their policies are good, because the person appears good, the halo effect in itself is fascinating and well-known in the business world. According to ‘Reputation Marketing’ by John Marconi, books that have ‘Harvard Classics’ written on the front can demand twice the price of the exact same book without the Harvard endorsement. The same is true in the fashion industry. The addition of a well-known fashion designer’s name to a simple pair of jeans can inflate their price tremendously.
But you would think we could pick up these sorts of mistaken judgements by simply introspecting and, in a manner of speaking, retrace our thought processes back to the original mistake. In the 1970s, well-known social psychologist Richard Nisbett set out to demonstrate how little access we actually have to our thought processes in general and to the halo effect in particular. But what this experiment demonstrates is that although we can understand the halo effect intellectually, we often have no idea when it is actually happening.
This is what makes it such a useful effect for sales professionals. We quite naturally make adjustments based on the positive attitude and confidence of the sales professional even before rapport is built up, without even realising it. This supports the brand represented by the sales professional and creates the context for a collaborative value based engagement.